By Daniel Pearson and Chas Hundley
Banks – Who will sit on three city council positions and who will fill the position of mayor will be decided on Tuesday, November 6 at 8 o’clock. The results aren’t hard to guess; those who have already voted or looked at their ballot will see that all candidates for local office in the city of Banks ran unopposed this year.
What follows is a look at each candidate; barring any surprise unknown write-in campaigns, these will be the representatives of the Banks citizens for the next four years, except for the mayor who will fill a two year term before the seat is open for another election.
The deadline to vote is Tuesday, November 6 by 8 p.m.; voters must drop their ballot off at a ballot drop box. It is too late to mail a ballot.
In Banks, a ballot drop box is located at the Banks Public Library. A full list of ballot drop boxes can be found at www.bankspost.com/vote2018
To be taken directly to a candidate and the position they are running for, click on their name below:
City of Banks Mayor Pete Edison, 61, is running for his third-elected term as mayor, fourth term overall after he was appointed in April 2013 to complete the then-two-year term of former mayor John Kinsky, who left soon after being elected.
Kinsky, an Intel manager back then, resigned in March 2013 after that month’s city council meeting, announcing he was moving to Hillsboro where Intel is based. Banks city government officials are required by city charter to live within the city limits.
Edison since has been elected three times as mayor — mayoral elections occur every two years in Banks now — just like in many Oregon municipalities.
Edison said this time he wants to run for re-election because, “We (the city council) have a lot of unfinished business to do and a lot of good things we’re doing,” he told the Banks Post. “I’d like to contribute a couple of more years toward moving those goals forward.”
Edison talked via telephone to Banks Post reporter Daniel Pearson. The following is a question-and-answer (Q&A) style, word-for-word account of that conversation.
Banks Post (BP): Could you give me a couple of examples of the goals that you mentioned that you said you’d like to stay on board as mayor to help the city move forward?
Pete Edison (PE): It’s no secret that we’ve been working on enhancing and upgrading our water supply. We have a large pipeline project that, for a number of years, has been in the engineering phase. We have known that our pipeline, from the main water source in the mountains three-and-a-half miles from town, is 60 years old and leaking badly. We’ve patched it so many times but now we want to isolate the issues — the exact locations of the leaks.
We’ve completed a lot of testing and determined that the best place for us, or rather the best way for the city to spend its money, is fixing the leaks once and for all rather than continuing putting band-aids of sorts on them. So, we did a variety of testing to isolate a number of different problem areas, and we really put the effort in to determine where the best places along the pipeline are to spend (the city’s) money.
We also did a study with a good-sized grant to look for new water storage and new aquifer storage and water recovery out of water that comes into the ground in the wintertime and is used in the summertime. We have thought that by replacing the water pipeline up to the spring — as we call it, our mountain source — that our supply would increase significantly.
We just received the results of the engineering study four months ago that shows our water supply will increase and we will save a lot of water but not enough to support all of the development being considered all around town. I would say, to put it in layman’s terms, we really are in trouble with water — it’s a big issue. By replacing our pipeline we’ll have plenty of water for all residents and customers of the water system and will be able to support some modest development, we just won’t have as much supply as is needed to support all of the proposed development both on the east and west sides of town.
We didn’t realize that until we got the study back. So, there are two ways to attack this, for lack of a better term, or to improve and increase the water supply system. One is to define new water sources. The other is to increase conservation measures, and that’s what we’re working on now.
BP: That’s a lot to take on for a small town like Banks, that will grow in the future just because of its location, whether people like even the idea of growth or not.
PE: That’s why we’ve spent so much time focusing on enhancing and upgrading our water supply. We have a large pipeline project we’ve been planning for a number of years,as I mentioned, that’s been in the engineering phase. This is just one of the projects that will affect our ability to grow in the future.
BP: Just to put those citizens at ease that may worry about this, fixing the pipeline and looking for a new water source will not produce an outcome like what happened in Flint, Michigan, where switching to a new water source drew out lead deposits and poisoned the water there, correct?
PE: I’m not sure why you would ask me that. These are completely different circumstances.
BP: I was thinking there may be readers who see this and think that something similar could happen here that happened in Flint, Mich. …
PE: There will be nothing here like what happened in Flint, Mich. at all. Our systems have no lead and we have them tested (annually) on our own. We’re not changing out the water supply now, we’re just replacing the pipeline that leads to our existing water source. But, as I mentioned, we are studying what potential new water sources may or may not exist that are out there that may or may not work for Banks.
BP: What’s the second project that you makes you feel you want to be re-elected as mayor so you can stay on board in order to see it through?
PE: The second project, recently finished within the last year, is what we call the Banks Vision 2037 Plan. That’s our downtown 20-year plan. It’s an exciting plan that enhances the downtown area and kind of the areas surrounding downtown in many ways. I’m (excited) to move forward on that one.
Some aspects of the plan we’ve already started, but we need revenue and citizen volunteers to get it running and keep it going, which is why we created the Banks Urban Renewal Agency (URA). A large part of the URA focuses on downtown and the properties we hope will be developed in the future to create more capital to invest back into infrastructure and other projects. Each plan has a list of projects people can see on the city’s website, as well as a map of the URA area.
Some of the things included in the Banks Vision 2037 Plan include improved streetscapes — new sidewalks and benches, trees, and the like — things that improve and enhance the overall look and character of downtown Banks. There is a business facade improvement plan where businesses can get money through grants to help improve the outside look of their buildings. Those types of programs have been really successful in other smaller and growing cities all throughout Oregon.
We also want to create, and (the city council and URA) is not sure exactly how yet, but we want to create a downtown plaza-like area, or town square — a place that is multi-use. For instance, it could be used for community gatherings, farmers markets, music events, or what have you. It’s a pretty neat deal and there is a lot of public input looking into getting that going.
BP: We touched on this a little bit earlier, but what do you say to people who do not want to see Banks grow at all — they want it to remain exactly the small town it is and resist very many, if any, future changes?
PE: I know there are a lot of ideas for development around town and existing projects. We are, I would say, in a very conservative way, working with those people — developers and landowners — and it’s our goal to create and help to create something that identifies the qualities of Banks — the aesthetics so that it doesn’t change the overall look or feel of the community. But growth is coming, and as I said we are approaching it conservatively with developers and landowners.
Everybody has their own opinion about the future of (the city of) Banks, and people should be able to say how they feel about it.
It sums up to me the way a municipal government works these days, from a revenue standpoint, just to keep our costs from increasing too much every year — labor, inputs, PERS — almost every city has to look at the cost increases every single year, and the way we generate revenue is a variety of ways.
Taxes are one, there are franchise fees that utilities pay, system development charges and transportation facilities charges, which are part of the city’s master plan … it’s kind of like, if you don’t have some growth, and I don’t mean explosive growth, I mean controlled, quality growth that will be tough on any level for some people to digest or accept, but without it it’s tough to keep the services going that a city can offer, or it will be very difficult to expand or increase services without some kind controlled, quality growth.
So, I think the job is to control that growth and make it happen in a very high-quality way. That’s what I believe the city council really believes in and the city staff does a great job helping to manage and facilitate.
The bottom line is, I love being the mayor here in Banks. I’m proud to be the mayor of Banks, and I’d like to keep working on all of the things we’re doing and that we have planned. I think we’re moving forward as a city. I’m proud of it and I want to stay on as your mayor.
On November 6, Marsha Kirk, a fourth generation Washington County resident and current city of Banks planning commissioner and economic development commission member will be the winner of a four-year term for city council position one (CC1), as incumbent Dan Keller is stepping down.
Kirk said she grew up in Cedar Mill, graduating from Sunset High School before pursuing and eventually earning an associate degree in criminal justice from Portland Community College, while working at the time.
Kirk worked for the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) from 1987 to 1999, largely as a records clerk. Part of her duties in the late 90’s was handling non-emergency calls, handling reports, requests by the public for information, and directing callers to resources. After that, Kirk transferred to what was then the city of Portland’s Bureau of Buildings as a clerical worker and then for two years as a code enforcement officer.
Kirk said she’d drive around to area homes as part of her duties, meeting with property owners.
“No, you can’t have really have that derelict vehicle there, or your grass is too high or yes, you’re a hoarder and you need to clean your property,” are issues she covered, among other things; often, she said, she’d partner with the PPB to address neighborhood problems.
Kirk’s husband of almost 15 years passed away suddenly in 2002, leaving her with two children aged 4 and 8.
Kirk eventually moved to the Banks area in 2005, living on a farm with her two children outside of Banks on Sell Road for seven years. During this time, she ran a small business on the farm, Kirk Valley Distributing.
The family experienced financial troubles, and the farm was subsequently repossessed by the bank. This prompted a temporary move to Beaverton in 2012, where Kirk lived for three years, when she moved back to Banks – this time living within city limits – in 2015.
Since then, Kirk has served on two city boards, as well as serving on the board of The Friends of Stub Stewart State Park and Banks-Vernonia Rails to Trails – currently as president – and has worked as a bus driver for Mid Columbia Bus Co., Metro, and the Oregon Episcopal School. Kirk currently drives bus for Mid Columbia out of Banks.
Kirk has served since 2017 in her role as a planning commissioner and as the Vice-Chair of the commission since January 2018. Kirk has also been a member of the economic development commission since it was formed by the city in 2016.
In the political realm, Kirk is running to address what she sees as an all encompassing issue: “the future of Banks itself.”
“I have become increasingly concerned with the possibility of Banks losing its small town feel,” wrote Kirk in her Oregon voters’ pamphlet statement. Kirk was the only city of Banks candidate to supply a statement to the pamphlet.
In an interview with the Post, Kirk talked more on this topic. “What I’m worried about with West-side development is, I don’t think the city is necessarily ready for it. I think they’re sort of putting the cart before the horse. I think they need to get other things ready and done before we move that far. Otherwise, it’s going to start eating into the livability and the way that the majority of the long-term people in Banks see Banks as being.”
She paused here and then continued. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t develop, I’m not saying we shouldn’t grow, I’m saying we need to step back and make sure we do it properly.”
Erica Harold-Heine, a Portland transplant who grew up in a military family and spent time in the U.S. Air Force, will be the winner of a four-year term for city council position three (CC3), as incumbent Mark Walsh is stepping down.
Harold-Heine said she was born in Oxford, England, but moved with her family moved to Dallas, Ore. when she was 11 years old. From there, they relocated to Salem, where she attended Sprague High School before joining the U.S. Air Force after graduation.
“I didn’t get to complete my four years in the Air Force because I had a medical issue,” she said. “But I was given an honorable discharge.”
She was married at 24 years old and she and her husband moved to the southeast Portland area, near Holgate Avenue — near the Lents neighborhood — where they started to raise two children, both boys who now are nine years old and two-and-a-half years old. From there they moved to Beaverton, and started looking for a permanent home that had a hometown atmosphere but was still close enough to the perks of the city and her husband’s work.
The family visited Banks a little more than two years ago for the first time. Harold-Heine said she knew nothing about the city, other than “it was a nice community and had good schools.”
“That was really important to our family because of our boys,” she said.
She wanted to learn more about Banks after moving there in July 2016, so she joined the city’s economic development commission and budget committee at the start of the city’s 2016-17 fiscal year to make sure she understood what her family “had signed up for” after deciding to stay here, at least until both boys are grown and moved out of the house.
She said what she wants to bring to the Banks City Council, after two years on subcommittees, is helping the community prepare in case of a natural disaster, especially the strong earthquake long predicted to hit the Portland area — she has a college degree in emergency preparedness to go with her military training — and she wants to help make sure Banks citizens are as resilient as possible in case such a situation occurs.
“I want to know the community,” Harold-Heine said. “I’m not looking to ‘get into politics.’ What makes me nervous about this (step) is I’ve never been in politics and I don’t know the protocols. That’s the piece I’m nervous about. But I think once I get there I can learn quickly and learn the culture and how everything flows and I’ll be more confident.
“I’m excited to serve,” she continued. “I grew up in a military family, and I served in the military. I didn’t get to finish my turn of service, so I feel like this is a way I can contribute and serve my community in some capacity and feel like I’m helping.”
Mark Gregg, an incumbent, and the Banks city council president, did not draw a challenger this year, and will be reelected to a four-year term for city council position five (CC5).
Gregg told the Banks Post this will be his third elected term, initially appointed to the city council in January 2009, to complete the last two terms of a councilor who stepped down. He then was elected to two, four-year terms and he said it’s difficult to single out any one accomplishment during his tenure as city councilor.
“For 10 years we’ve been involved in the consistent process of urban growth boundary (expansion) and land use,” Gregg said. “We’ve taken a lot of care about those processes as smartly as we could. Growth is inevitable, and I believe we’ve done a good job providing a full range of services to the city with a small-town budget. Our police services levy has been renewed twice since I’ve been on the council, and that is a good show of support with our Washington County Sheriffs, and the quality of service they provide.”
Gregg said the biggest challenges newcomers will face are likely to be balancing the budget and maintaining the services we currently offer, he said.
“We also need to manage growth smartly, making sure we have adequate infrastructure coming online along with that growth,” Gregg said. “We are in the process of replacing an aged main water transmission line that is needed to reduce leaks in our system and conserve more water for our customers. This major repair is needed regardless of growth but will also help us accommodate the growth while helping to pay for the pipe replacement.”
Gregg said the public should be proud of the city of Banks’ new Economic Development Commission and Urban Renewal District.
Kirk Valley Distributing was named incorrectly; this has been corrected.